One of my next assignments is a 5 page essay on a topic related to migration & religion. I picked a book by Dagmar Konrad about missionary wives (brides) in the 19th century. The interesting thing about this book is that that missionaries send out by the Basel Mission (the mission organisation this book focuses on) had to go some interesting ways if they whished to get married. Once based in China, India or West Africa it was quite difficult to find a spouse form your home country. So there was a method developed that friends and family (sometimes even the committee board) would look for a suitable girl and ask her about marry a stranger in oversees. If she agreed (and it seemed that most girls did agree) they received some training (from a few weeks up to 3 month) and then where send to their future husband’s mission station. These women where called “Missionsbräute”, mission brides (and not missionary brides) and usually would know the bridegroom only by some letters and a picture. ((ex)OMer: Speaking about SP being a strick rule ...)
Once she arrived in her destination, the couple was given 2 weeks to get to know each other before the wedding. During this time it was possible to break up the engagement, but this was an option that was rarely made use of.
I am really fascinated by this book. Not that I think this is a good practice. But I find it interesting to see what made these girls to agree to such a arranged wedding. The author is not a Christian and does not really understand why someone would go into missions. But she tries to and portraits this women from various perspectives. What where the motives to leave home and family, to maybe never return (many of the women died on the mission field)? How could they feel so close to a man they had never seen? I am sure that there have been numerous reasons and one or the other might be hid behind a Christian phrase. There might have been an adventurous spirit wanting to leave the village, a way of escaping another unwanted marriage, a lot of pressure from the community to agree, a real interest in the country to go to and for the people to find God and a romantic feeling towards an unknown groom. Still all of these girls were Christians that tried to seek God’s will. It´s interesting that in all the letters brides and grooms see eachothr as God given blessing.
Ok, I do not want to write these 5 pages here. Just wanted to let you know what I am reading right now.